Uncertain Professional Identities: Managing the Emotional Contexts of Teaching

Part of the Professional Learning and Development in Schools and Higher Education book series (PROD, volume 100)


This chapter draws on findings from a four-year longitudinal research project, commissioned by the Department for Education and Skills (DfES), which investigated Variations in Teachers’ Work, Lives and Effectiveness (VITAE). Drawing on data gathered from 300 teachers working in 100 primary and secondary schools in England, the research identified qualitative and statistically significant associations between commitment and effectiveness (perceived and in terms of pupil attainment) and found that there were more, and less, effective teachers in each of six professional life phases which were identified. It found that teachers in each of these phases experience a number of different scenarios that challenge their capacities to sustain their commitment. The chapter discusses associations between teacher commitment and professional identity. It finds that teacher identities are neither intrinsically stable nor intrinsically fragmented, but that they can be more or less stable and more or less fragmented at different times and in different ways according to the relative positive or negative impact of a number of personal, socio-cultural/policy and workplace influences; and that a positive, stable sense of professional identity is associated with teachers’ ability to manage the emotional contexts of teaching.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of EducationUniversity of NottinghamNottinghamUK

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